The demand for clean and renewable energy has been on the rise over the recent past. This is seen with the increasing demand for electric-powered vehicles that run on rechargeable batteries. While lithium-ion batteries seem to be doing just fine in this sector, there is a desperate need for even more powerful batteries. This has forced researchers to look at the various ways to make lithium-ion batteries more efficient or use another compound (such as graphene) for batteries. Outlined below are some of the newer versions of batteries we should expect in the future.
The Next Generation Lithium-Ion Battery
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries store electric energy and release it when the lithium ions move from the positive to the negative electrode via an electrolyte. Lithium is thus initially stored on the positive electrode while the negative electrode acts as its host. A reaction in the electrolyte is what helps lithium batteries charge up and store power, then release it on demand. Several types of lithium-ion batteries have been produced since, with researchers looking for the perfect materials to use as negative and positive electrodes. Phosphates or lithiated metal oxides are commonly used for the positive electrode with graphite/silicon, and lithiated titanium oxides used for the negative terminals.
With researchers and manufacturer’s having almost exhausted the various cell designs and materials that can be used in this technology, we should see li-ion technology hit its limit in the next few years. There however have been discoveries on disruptive active materials that could be used to help unlock the current li-ion limits. Researchers believe these compounds can store more lithium on both the positive and negative electrodes, boosting its performance significantly, we should thus see batteries capable of combining power and energy in years to come. The active materials in question are however quite rare, something scientists have to overcome first.
What Are The Advantages Of The Next-Gen Li-Ion Batteries?
As of now, only lithium-ion batteries are capable enough to hold lots of energy. It’s the only technology known to allow the highest energy density levels. The technology allows for the batteries to be charged fast enough without triggering increased source UPS temperatures. Li-ion has a wider temperature operating table of between -50°C up and 125°C, which can be tweaked with a little fine-tuning. Lithium-ion batteries also have a relatively low self-discharge and support thousands of charging and discharging cycles.
With lithium-ion batteries, an active material is required to provide or act as a stable host for the lithium ions especially during charging and discharge. These host structures aren’t however necessary in lithium-sulfur batteries. This is because the lithium anode is consumed to form sulfur as the battery discharges, with the reverse happening as the battery is charged up.
Advantages Of Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) Batteries
First, lithium-sulfur batteries are light, lighter than li-ion batteries. This is because the metallic lithium acts as the cathode with sulfur acting as the anode. In theory, Li-S batteries have a higher energy density (up to 4 times) than li-ion batteries. These are thus the best batteries for space industries and aviation applications.
Solid-state batteries represent a major change in battery technology and development. This is because an aqueous electrolyte isn’t needed to allow for ions to move from one electrode to the other. A solid compound replaces the liquid electrolyte while still allowing lithium ions to move freely between electrodes. This concept isn’t however anything new, as it has been around for the past 10 years. Researchers have discovered new families of solid electrolytes (with a high ionic conductivity) that have helped overcome this technological barrier. The main focus now is on inorganic compounds and polymers that promise to make this a reality.
Advantages Of A Solid-State Battery
Notably, solid-state batteries will have a higher energy density and much safer too. Unlike liquid electrolytes, solid-state electrolytes are non-flammable, making such batteries more stable. These batteries also allow for high-voltage high-capacity materials without affecting the weight of the batteries. These batteries will also have a better shelf-life with reduced self-discharge.